|"Hanging on a Notion"
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, blah blah blah.
Summary: Maria has a special Christmas surprise for Michael
Category: After Hours
|winters come and winters go
still no sign from you
i put the candle in the window
will you be home soon?
and every time i close my eyes i see you running through the door to me so loud and clear your voice is ringing in my ears and i’m still… hanging on a notion
i try so hard it makes me weak to send a message with my mind maybe then i’ll feel complete when i hear your reply
it was written in stone it was in the stars that we would be together and i trusted you like i’d trust an angel and i’m still…
hanging on a notion you’ll come back to me every shadow every sound i hear keeps me hanging on a notion hanging on a notion -Hanging On A Notion Fleming & John
“It’s the best Christmas present I could’ve asked for,” Michael Guerin said snidely. He sat at a booth in the Crash Down with Max and Isabel Evans and Alex Whitman.
Max was worried. “Really?” His dark eyes bored into Michael’s. Isabel also looked concerned.
“Hell, yes,” Michael said. “Hank clearing out to visit his drunken idiot of a brother for four days will be kind of like Heaven. If I believed in Heaven.”
“But you’ll be alone for Christmas,” Alex said quietly.
“So?” Michael scoffed. “Christmas is just another day.”
Maria DeLuca eavesdropped from behind them, where she was wiping a table over and over again. Her heart hurt, because she knew that underneath all that bluster, Michael was lonely and frightened. He could be a stubborn asshole, and he’d hurt her more than anyone else ever had, but it didn’t matter. Maria still wanted him. Fiercely. Intensely.
Maria glanced at the counter and saw her best friend Liz Parker standing alone, lost and forlorn in her blue uniform. Even her antennae looked droopy. Maria managed a sympathetic smile, which Liz half-heartedly returned. Just two lovelorn waitresses, Maria thought. Pathetic.
“I almost hate the holidays,” Alex was saying. “I’m still not done shopping.” He sighed.
Isabel perked up. “I’m not, either,” she said. She glanced down at her plate, then cut her big brown eyes at Alex. “We could go finish up tomorrow. Last chance – it’s Christmas Eve.”
“Um…sure,” Alex said. He smiled shyly at the gorgeous blonde.
Maria rolled her eyes. Obviously, her advice to him had gone in one ear and out the other: Don’t get involved with them. In the end they can be pretty heartless. She snorted, very faintly, to herself. She wasn’t even planning to take her own advice…why should she expect Alex to?
Liz approached their table. “Do you want anything else?” she asked, her eyes scanning the foursome and lingering on Max.
“I think we’re done,” Max said. He smiled wistfully at her, and his eyes held a definable sadness. “Anyone for a movie?”
“Can’t,” Michael said, standing up, nearly bumping into Maria. He cast her a dark glance and turned his attention back to Max. “I’m helping a guy unload trucks all day tomorrow to pick up some extra cash. I have to be there early.”
Isabel yawned prettily. “I’m tired, Max. Let’s just go home. C’mon, Alex, we’ll give you a ride.” Alex followed her obediently out the door.
Max and Michael shared an amused glance that spoke volumes about their thoughts on Is’ infatuation with Alex Whitman, sophomore guitar geek. He was a nice guy, but he didn’t quite seem to be Isabel’s type. Again, Max wondered what exactly had happened that night when Is had gone into Alex’s dream.
“Goodnight,” Liz said softly to them.
“’Night, Liz,” Max replied. “’Night, Maria.”
“Let’s ride, Maxwell,” Michael said abruptly, without acknowledging either of the two girls. He strode to the door and pushed through it. Max followed him.
Liz sighed heavily after they were gone. “There went our knights in shining armor.” She looked at her friend, who was staring into space with a rapt expression. “Maria?”
Maria cleared the table and headed for the back without answering Liz. She’d just had an intriguing idea that had been brought on by Michael’s revelation that he would be alone for Christmas. She thought about it as she began the restaurant’s closing activities, humming absently to herself.
Michael Guerin needed her, whether the fool would admit it or not. It was time to make him realize that little fact. In spite of the harsh words he’d said to her at the party at the old soap factory, Maria knew how he really felt. When she and Isabel, Max and Alex had participated in the healing ceremony in River Dog’s cave, Michael had come to her in the vision and kissed her, hard, on the lips. Her consciousness had been filled with his emotions: regret, longing, need, desire…and love.
Maria shivered. She already knew that she loved Michael and wanted him. All she had needed was an opportunity. Now it looked as if she had it. “Liz,” she said, walking to the front of the Crash Down where Liz was wiping down tables, “are you going to be home tomorrow night?”
“Where else would I be?” Liz said. “It’s not like I have a boyfriend or anything.” She tried to smile.
“My mom has a Christmas Eve date with Sheriff Valenti,” Maria said, wrinkling her nose at the thought, “but on the off chance she calls to see if I’m there, I need you to cover for me.”
“Maria,” Liz said suspiciously. “What are you up to?”
Maria stared at her friend, sweet, naďve, innocent Liz, who would undoubtedly spend her evening on the roof with her journal, mooning over Max. Liz would try to talk her out of it, and Maria didn’t want to be talked out of anything. “Gotta go,” she said hastily. “Thanks, Liz.”
Darkness had just fallen in Roswell on Christmas Eve. Maria sat in the threadbare recliner, closing her eyes and breathing in the aroma of cinnamon and cloves. The only light came from the scented votive candles that she had placed in the front room, the bathroom and Michael’s bedroom. She inhaled deeply, relaxing her muscles and filling her lungs with air. She let the air out with a sigh and glanced around contentedly, proud of the order she had imposed on the squalid trailer belonging to Michael’s foster father.
“Oh, God,” Maria had said dismally as she’d first stepped inside the door at nine o’clock in the morning. She had expected it to be a mess, but she hadn’t quite been prepared for a mess of this magnitude. She’d gamely put down her bucket of cleaning supplies and gone through the trailer gathering the dirty clothes and towels that littered the floors and the sheets from Michael’s single bed, hauling it all to the trailer park’s laundry room. She’d tried to ignore the hostile glances from the other residents she’d seen, many of whom appeared to be illegal aliens. Mexican, not Czechoslavakian.
Next Maria had walked through with a trash bag, picking up the fast-food wrappers, banana peels, crumpled papers and other detritus that littered the place. With that done, she could vacuum the floors, which looked like they hadn’t been touched in six months. Grimacing with disgust, she had cleaned the tiny bathroom and the stove and sink in the kitchen, all the while expecting to encounter some deadly bacteria or fungus. She had dirtied three rags and used up half a can of Pledge dusting the furniture. With all of that done, she had gone back to collect the laundry from the dryer.
Once she’d gotten back to the trailer, Maria had quickly folded all of the clothes into the laundry basket and put it back into the hall closet, and she had taken the sheets into Michael’s room and re-made the bed. Exhausted, she had sank down to rest for a moment, looking around bemusedly. It was completely Spartan, containing only the bed, a mirrorless dresser and a small pine desk and chair. Not a very romantic place to lose her virginity, but it would have to do.
Maria’s pulse had quickened at the thought of Michael’s hands on her, his lips devouring her mouth, his strong, muscular body pressing down on her. The nearest she’d ever gotten to a sexual encounter was that night at the Crash Down, when Michael had undone her shorts and used his nimble fingers to bring her to climax, sucking so hard on her neck all the while that she’d had a deep, red hickey to show for it. Now, Maria bit her lip. She couldn’t wait to feel that way again. She tensed at the sound of footsteps outside. It appeared that she wouldn’t have long to wait.
Michael Guerin clomped up the front steps, happy to be home, ramshackle though it was. At least he would have it to himself for the next few days. He pulled open the front door, which was never locked, and his first thought was that he must be in the wrong trailer. This one smelled and even looked clean, from what he could see in the semi-darkness. There was nothing on the floor to trip over, and soft music emanated from the radio that perched atop the 15” black and white television.
Michael looked around, perplexed, and caught sight of Maria DeLuca curled up in the recliner. He blinked, pushing the door closed behind him. Maria was a vision in winter white, dressed in off-white jeans and a soft, fuzzy sweater that clung lovingly to what looked to be braless breasts. She looked like an angel with her blonde hair fluffed out around that perfect face. Her clear blue gaze was steady on his, and a smile curved her full lips.
“Welcome home, spaceboy,” she said.
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